So now you have the basic idea of the classes. What about game modes? Do we get to see any zombie-type maps in TF2? How about Slayer? Search and Destroy?
Well… not yet. At least, not officially. However, TF2 does have a variety of game modes, including Control Point, Capture the Flag, Payload, and more. Keep in mind, however, that each map does only one game mode. For example, ctf_2fort is always a CTF map, where as the map “Sawmill” comes in three flavours: ctf_sawmill (Capture the Flag), arena_sawmill (Arena), and koth_sawmill (King of the Hill). Why does TF2 use this system? As everyone knows, trying to play Capture the Flag in an open area usually results in a sniperfest, whereas trying to capture a point that’s in a narrow hall is very tough (you can take fire from both ends). TF2 ensures that each map is specifically tailored to each game mode, and even similar maps can have slight changes for each game mode (for example, ctf_sawmill has a few extra passages that are blocked off in koth_sawmill).
Since the 8 game modes in TF2 revolve around 3 objectives, we will first cover the three objective types of TF2. The first one is Control Point, or CP. CP maps revolve around certain areas, known as control points (see below). You “capture” a control point by standing on it. The more people that stand on a point, the faster it captures. However, if someone from the other team stands on the point, the capture stops until they are removed. This is why you often hear people screaming “stand on it!!!” when a point is being captured. In addition, players cannot capture points while übercharged (although Kritzkriegs are fine). Points can also be “locked” so that nobody can capture them.
Now that we have a general idea of how control points work, we can move on to the five different types of games that involve control points.
5CP (Linear CP, Push, Tug-o-War), (prefix “cp_”)
5CP maps are the most common, and one of the two original CP types. The idea is simple: There are 5 Control Points. Each team has two, and there is a neutral point in the middle. Both teams rush the middle point (“mid”) and one captures it. After that, one team tries to capture all the points (in a linear fashion), and the team that caps all 5 first wins.
Now that we have the basics of the CP system down, it’s time to talk about the four different types of CP maps (complicated, ain’t it?).
Attack/Defend (Strike, A/D) (prefix “cp_”)
The next game mode, also referred to as a CP, is Attack/Defend. This concept is pretty simple as well, there’s an attacking team (always BLU), and a defending team (RED), and BLU tries to wipe aside RED’s defences and win. This game mode is almost always favoured on public servers for two reasons: you only have to worry about attacking, or defending (and not both, like in 5CP maps), and it’s impossible to end up in a stalemate.
Both these game modes use the cp_ tag, so it can be hard to distinguish between them. Usually, if the map isn’t cp_dustbowl or cp_gravelpit, it’s a 5CP map.
Arena (prefix “arena_”) & King Of the Hill (KOTH) (prefix “koth_”)
Arena and King of the Hill (KOTH) both focus on a single control point that must be captured to win the round. There are, however, a few key differences between the two:
- In KOTH, you must hold the CP for a cumulative 3 minutes to win, whereas in Arena, capturing the point is an instant win
- There is no respawning in Arena, making Arena more like a CounterStrike match: much more calculated and intense
- The control point in an Arena match remains locked for a couple of minutes before being made available for capture
Territorial Control (prefix “tc_”)
Territorial Control is the most infrequently-played game mode, and currently the only official map to make use of it is tc_hydro. It functions very similarly to Attack/Defend, with one notable exception – each A/D-style map represents a struggle between the two teams for control of a “territory”, a region of a map shown at the beginning of each new map.
Hydro features 6 control points (one per territory), and a variety of A/D maps that see these points contested. At the end of a map, the winning team takes control of the opponent’s territory, and when a team has only one territory remaining, there is something of a “last stand”, where that team must defend their final point for some amount of time. If this final point is taken, the meta-game of territory control ends.
That’s all for the CP maps. They are the most popular and varied modes in the TF2 world, and most pro games are based around them. However, there are still two objective types we haven’t discussed yet: Capture the Flag and Payload.
Capture the Flag (CTF) (prefix “ctf_”)
Most CTF maps are pretty simple: you touch the flag (which is really a briefcase) to pick it up, and take it back to your own base. If you drop the flag, your team has 60 seconds to recover it, or it goes back to the enemy base (there is no “reset by touching” option). If you pick up the flag any time within those 60 seconds, the timer is reset, making it possible to drag the flag back to your base inch by inch, as long as someone touches it every 60 seconds.
Payload (Push the Kart) (prefix “pl_”)
Payload is an attack/defend style game, in which the attacking team (BLU again) pushes a cart (which holds a giant bomb) along a set of rails. To “push” the cart, simply stand near it; you can still move freely while pushing. The cart has a low-level dispenser on it which the pushing team can make use of. The cart is pushed through a series of checkpoints, and finally into a pit of explosives (the last point), whereupon it explodes.
In Payload, the cart moves faster up every time you add a person, but at four people, it stops moving faster. Just like in CP games, Scouts count as two people. However, once there are 3 people on the cart, there is no additional speed bonus (6 people moves at same speed as 3). Finally, if the attacking team fails to push the cart at all for 30 seconds, it will reverse slowly (back to the most recent checkpoint) until pushed again.
Payload Race (Double Payload) (prefix “plr_”)
In a Payload Race, the same thing happens, except now both teams have a cart that they must push into the opposition’s base. PLR is to PL what 5CP is to A/D; that is, Payload Race forces you to focus on both attack and defence simultaneously, whereas regular Payload splits these responsibilities between the two teams.
That’s all the official game modes features in Team Fortress 2. Come back next time for (I do believe one of the first out there) Choosing a Server guide!